History has been kind to the U.S. Olympic team. It seems like every four years new heroes emerge from the Summer Games. Michael Phelps had his gold medal haul in 2008. Kerri Strug led the gymnastics team in Atlanta, despite an injured ankle. Carl Lewis amassed a total of nine golds. One could fill a book or three with the Olympic accomplishments of the United States over the years.
Although 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team and Olympic Hopefuls focuses primarily on those participating at the London games, some of the best cards in the release focus on heroes from past years. 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team Champions Autographs look to former champions. Unlike the set's regular autographs, these cards feature on-card signatures.
The cards use dramatic photos of the athletes that have been artistically rendered. This is similar to the regular autographs. However, the background has gold draped throughout rather than the American flag that used on the regular autographs. The top of the card has the 'Champions' title, while the bottom includes the athlete's last name.
Early eBay sales of the 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team Champions Autographs have been rather strong. An Amanda Beard led all first-week sales, going for $120. A Carl Lewis sold for $86 on 22 bids while a Kerri Strug ended at $85. However, prices still haven't leveled off. Earlier copies of the Beard card sold for significantly less, with one closing for a low of less than $25. It does appear that the 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team Champions Autographs are gaining in popularity. Overall, prices are higher now than when the set launched. That may be an indication that more collectors are falling for the set as they see them.
Here is a 2012 Topps U.S. Olympic Team Champions Autographs checklist as well as the Olympic medal count for each athlete.
Bruce Jenner - 1 Gold
Béla Károlyi - Coach for several medalists
Carl Lewis - 9 Gold, 1 Silver
Jackie Joyner-Kersee - 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze
Jason Lezak - 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze
Karch Kiraly - 3 Gold
Kerri Strug - 1 Gold, 1 Bronze
Matt Biondi - 8 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze
Michael Phelps - 14 Gold, 2 Bronze
Mark Spitz - 9 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
Rulon Gardner - 1 Gold, 1 Bronze